Emin came to the fore of contemporary art in the 1990s through her distinctively visceral and intimate artworks, which speak to the universal themes of love, longing, loss, loneliness and pain. Her artworks oftentimes take the form of visual confessions, where the artist discloses details of her life or her feelings to the viewer, therefore putting her personal experiences and emotional life at the core of her oeuvre. Within this project, written text is not unusual, and is often paired with her minimal visual depictions to add further meaning to the images.
Fighting For Love is one such piece where the text not only predominates the image, but is in fact the only component of the artwork. The print reads as an open-ended letter written by the artist for the viewer to see. The text is a commentary on Emin’s fight for love, that claims: “when the fighting starts, I know that I have already lost … I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, my mind jumps from a grinding numbness to some crazy fucked up out of control day like hell … that’s how it is to live without love”. Through reading Emin’s words, the viewer is permeated by a sense of helplessness. However, it is precisely this intense emotional quality that makes works like Fighting for Love so popular amongst the wider public, in that they necessarily elicit an empathetic response from the viewer, who will relate to Emin’s words to a more or less personal level.